• Local woman warns others of payday loan scheme


    PITTSBURGH - A woman says she was told to pay thousands for an old payday loan, or she would head to jail.

    But there was one big problem -- she never took out a loan.

    The woman told Target 11’s Brittny McGraw that those operating the scheme knew a lot of her personal information.


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    Courtney Petrishen said she got an email to inform her that she would be legally prosecuted “in the Court House within a couple of days.”

    “It said I owed $469 and I haven’t paid, and because I didn’t pay, it ended up being $13,000-something,” Petrishen said.

    She said she applied for a loan online years ago, but never took it out.

    “He knew the last four of my Social, my birth date, where I lived,” she said. “He had my routing account number, my bank account number, everything. He knew my middle name.”

    The personal information made the threat sound legit, but Petrishen said she called her bank and the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office -- and both confirmed this was a scam.

    “Always be suspicious if they’re claiming that immediate action is needed or dire consequences might occur such as imprisonment,” said Caitlin Driscoll, with the Better Business Bureau or Western Pennsylvania.

    The BBB has this advice when it comes to calls for outstanding debts:

    • Ask the debt collector to provide official documentation of the debt
    • Verify any debt claim with the company directly
    • Never confirm or provide any personal information until you verify the identity of the caller

    “Always look into it. Investigate first. I would always tell everybody to do that,” Petrishen said.

    Investigators said the scammers appear to have access to real payday loan applications because, in many cases, they harass people who actually did apply for such loans.

    If this happens to you, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

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